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Republican lawmaker aims to gut Indiana's coronavirus limits

A Republican lawmaker pushed Monday to strip away much of the authority Indiana’s state and local public health officials have used to impose restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posted: Jan 26, 2021 6:07 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A Republican lawmaker pushed Monday to strip away much of the authority Indiana’s state and local public health officials have used to impose restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill would prohibit health officials from steps such as imposing limits on the number of customers allowed inside a business or restricting medical services that hospitals could provide, along with blocking restrictions on religious services or private schools.

Such steps under Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s executive orders over the past 10 months have stirred some conservative opposition and prompted debate in the GOP-dominated Legislature on measures limiting the governor’s emergency powers authority and preventing employers from requiring workers to receive immunizations against COVID-19 or any other disease.

But the bill sponsored by Rep. Bob Morris of Fort Wayne would go much further in limiting state authority than one written by House Majority Leader Matt Lehman of Berne.

Lehman’s proposal would require the General Assembly to be called into session for an extension of a governor’s emergency order beyond 60 days, but doesn’t limit any current authority that’s been aimed at stemming spread of the coronavirus that the state health department says has killed nearly 10,000 people in Indiana with some 2,000 more currently hospitalized.

The Republican-dominated Indiana House commerce committee Monday added restriction provisions proposed by Morris to his bill without any advanced notice and could vote on the bill next week.

Morris argued that state and local officials had gone too far in restricting businesses and that they had no right to place limits on attendance for religious services, including weddings and funerals, and require face masks and social distancing as was done during the early weeks of pandemic limitations last spring.

“I don’t feel that government should tell someone how they worship and what they wear and how they do it. And that’s really what our Constitution states as well,” Morris said. “So, we can recommend things, but to actually tell the church what they can and cannot do, I don’t feel that that’s correct.”

Neither Lehman nor Republican House Speaker Todd Huston immediately commented Monday on the provisions proposed by Morris.

Democratic Rep. Rita Fleming of Jeffersonville, a medical doctor, argued during the committee meeting that rolling back coronavirus safeguards now wasn’t wise and that not even churches should be exempt.

“It is the right of everyone in the community to be free of disease where possible,” Fleming said.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 657037

Reported Deaths: 12450
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion901321624
Lake48105871
Allen35552632
Hamilton31839393
St. Joseph29538510
Elkhart25261412
Vanderburgh21115377
Tippecanoe19765197
Johnson16242352
Porter15838267
Hendricks15723296
Clark11843179
Madison11672314
Vigo11503228
Monroe10248158
Delaware9788178
LaPorte9720194
Howard9017194
Kosciusko8514107
Bartholomew7373147
Warrick7369146
Hancock7362128
Floyd7139164
Wayne6586188
Grant6395157
Morgan6040124
Boone603388
Dubois5868111
Dearborn540266
Henry539492
Marshall5390104
Cass537199
Noble506775
Jackson462063
Shelby458490
Lawrence4154111
Gibson399681
Harrison395160
Clinton392353
DeKalb382078
Montgomery381583
Knox354484
Miami354063
Whitley346235
Huntington338176
Steuben335955
Wabash328775
Putnam325959
Ripley325161
Adams320249
Jasper312943
White295351
Jefferson292770
Daviess284296
Fayette270255
Decatur269388
Greene259978
Posey259731
Wells255374
Scott248446
LaGrange240170
Clay238944
Randolph225076
Spencer215830
Jennings213544
Washington207727
Sullivan202038
Fountain200341
Starke185950
Owen181652
Jay177328
Fulton176437
Carroll175618
Perry172435
Orange170450
Rush163922
Franklin158335
Vermillion158040
Tipton145441
Parke137915
Pike127232
Blackford120027
Pulaski105643
Newton96431
Brown94639
Benton91113
Crawford90113
Martin80114
Switzerland7507
Warren74612
Union66810
Ohio52711
Unassigned0425

COVID-19 Important links and resources

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